Do herniated discs heal? This is a question asked by many patients who are experiencing the frightening pain and related symptoms often blamed on a bulging intervertebral disc. Patients who are diagnosed with a herniated disc suffer immediate concern for their health and typically want to know the prognosis for their future. Unfortunately, there is quite a bit of often contradictory information relating to this vital topic.
The scope of this article will discuss how disc injuries might
heal and more importantly, the simple fact that many disc abnormalities
do not need to heal in order for the patient to end their pain.
Herniated discs often do not need to heal at all. That is because most minor and moderate herniated discs are not painful or problematic in any way. They merely exist. In fact, herniated discs are a common side effect of normal spinal aging.
Disc herniations which occur due to traumatic injury might be painful and produce widespread symptoms. However, even these agonizing concerns usually resolve in about 2 to 8 weeks, with or without treatment. While it is unlikely that a disc will ever go back to a pre-herniated state, it will typically stabilize and not cause any further pain or future health concerns in many patients. Many bulges get smaller over time, while some may become larger and possibly symptom-generating. There is no absolute rule when it comes to how a herniation will progress.
The medical industry has maligned the poor spinal disc, giving it a reputation as a troublesome structure responsible for causing chronic back pain. Research has shown conclusively that bulging discs rarely cause health problems, although they are diagnosed as the source of pain in many patients.
Herniated discs are implicated in creating pain in many foraminal stenosis, pinched nerve, sciatica and spinal stenosis conditions. These diagnoses are often incorrect and lead the patient on a fool’s errand through the back pain treatment system.
It is no wonder that many patients never find a real cure for their suspected herniated disc pain. After all, the disc may not be responsible for the pain at all. The condition has simply been misdiagnosed and every treatment option was directed at a mistakenly identified causation. No wonder all the therapies failed.
It should be mentioned that disc herniations which actually cause structural compression of neurological tissues generally should respond well to appropriate care. If this does not occur after multiple attempts at treatment, then a mistaken diagnosis may be the most logical reason why.
So, to finalize the complicated question concerning whether discs heal or not, the answer is, "Yes and no".
Yes, physical injuries will generally stop producing pain, although no, the disc is unlikely to return to its exact pre-injury state.
No, a degenerated disc will not heal, but it is also extremely unlikely to ever cause significant pain.
No, healing of the structural condition will not always relieve the pain, if the condition is misdiagnosed.
Yes, the patient will continue to suffer even after the
disc has been treated with indicated medical treatment or even surgery,
if the condition has been misdiagnosed.
The bottom line is simple:
Most disc herniations are little more than scapegoats on which to blame chronic pain. Sure, some fresh injuries might hurt for a short time frame. However, unless there is a definitive neurological link, these will heal and the pain should stop. If not, then there is a good chance that the pain is not due to the herniated disc at all.
So, some herniations can heal, some may not. Degeneration never heals. However, statistics show that healing is not needed in order for the back or neck symptoms to resolve.